State of the Whitecaps part 2 (including a look at our keepers)By: Felegy | December 14th, 2011
In parts 2 through X (as yet undetermined) of this mini-series, I take a look at the state of the Whitecaps squad as of today, with a few rumours of possible signings thrown in, as well as a wishlist.
In part 1 of the series I touched on some changes to the squad from last season. Here is a complete list of changes we’ve made since our final game:
Jeb Brovsky – unprotected, taken in expansion draft by Montreal
Bilal Duckett – waived
Nizar Khalfan* – waived, picked up by Philadelphia Union
Alex Morfaw – waived
Jay Nolly – traded to Chicago Fire for a first-round pick in the 2013 supplemental draft
Shea Salinas – traded to San Jose for allocation money
Peter Vagenas – waived
Bryce Alderson – signed to first team from Residency
Young-pyo Lee – signed for less-than-DP money
I think that’s everyone.
I skipped over Khalfan’s departure in part 1 of this mini-series, and for that I am sorry. Khalfan has struggled to find a place in the Whitecaps squad for two years, under both Teitur and Tommy Soehn, so no one should be surprised that he was released. However, I just can’t shake my impression of him as a good energy sub, someone who could come on and provide a spark, some drive to what could be, at times, a lifeless team. Nizar was picked up by the Philadelphia Union, and I wish him success.
(Also, there was this wundergoal last season against Salt Lake. We’ll miss you, Nizar.)
Below is our entire squad as of today.
I’m going to quickly take a look at our keepers in this instalment; later instalments will examine our defenders, midfielders, wingers and forwards.
Joe Cannon was re-signed for a lower salary (he made $210k last season), and barring injury or a disastrous drop in form he’ll likely be our #1 this coming season. He’s an excellent reflex shot-stopper at times, but sometimes his concentration slips, and he is much happier waiting for shots rather than challenging early.
Ben did a great comparison of Cannon and Jay Nolly, with Cannon just edging Nolly on stats for the season. I personally would have taken Nolly and his $65k salary, but I understand why Rennie went with Cannon at a reduced rate.
Joe has quickly become a fan-favourite and a big personality at the club. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and he’s a leader on the field. Unfortunately, Joe is slightly injury-prone and not a young man at 37 years old. I’m happy to have him between the sticks in March, as long as he has a good back-up.
Speaking of back-ups, we don’t really have one. Brian Sylvestre, our young, promising US U-20 keeper, is big, strong, and full of potential, but probably not ready to be back-up to Cannon. He only played a few games for the reserves last season, and is still just 18 (he turns 19 on Dec 19; happy birthday, Brian!). It’s been rumoured that Rennie would bring Brad Knighton with him from Carolina, but so far nothing has happened.
So we’ll need to sign another keeper. There were quite a few available in the (ridiculous) re-entry draft, but Rennie didn’t go for any, so the safe money is on him bringing in someone he knows or someone from overseas. Knighton seems like a good fit, with some MLS experience (14 appearances for New England and Philadelphia) and a year with Rennie in Carolina, where he posted some decent stats.
With Donovan Ricketts and Greg Sutton both joining Montreal Impact*, it is probable that Montreal will be releasing or not re-signing one of Evan Bush and Bill Gaudette, their two keepers from last season. I would take either as our back-up. 30-year-old Gaudette is a bit of a Division 2 legend, bald, boisterous and a commanding presence. Bush was the top keeper in Div 2/USL/NASL/whatever-we’re-calling-it-now last season, allowing just 14 goals in 19 games. He’s just 25 years old.
Any other keepers come to mind? I’m sure there are hundreds from lower divisions across Europe, but with international spots at a premium, Rennie will likely look closer to home, seeking a US keeper. I know nothing about any other keepers in NASL, so I’m happy with my Knighton-Gaudette-Bush lottery. I would be happy with any of this trio, and confident that each would perform well as a back-up and when called on.
* It’s possible that Ricketts will get traded elsewhere before the start of next season, so this speculation about Gaudette and Bush could be premature.